Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of k-pop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
When reviewing songs, I feel like I write a lot about managing expectations. But, it’s a constant struggle when it comes to assessing new music. I kind of wonder what it would be like to go back to when I first got into K-pop and had no assumptions (good or bad) of any group. I think this objectivity probably helped me enjoy the music more. Now, every established artist has expectations of some sort attached to them. This can be fun when an act I don’t expect to like surprises me. But more often than not, it leads to a sense of disappointment when it comes to new material from personal favorites. I always have to remind myself to give the music a chance and learn to love it for what it is, not what I hoped it might be.
Such is the case with ONF’s We Must Love, which has already grown on me. On first listen, I was even more hesitant about the album’s b-side tracks — mostly because they seemed to be of a lower energy than my favorite work from the group. But, further listens have improved their standing as well. I still prefer ONF’s first two albums, but songs like Ice & Fire have become quick growers.
ONF pull off smooth, retro pop better than almost any other group out there, and this track draws on their impressive vocals by spotlighting falsetto. The instrumental has an irresistible groove to it, even if I wish it was a bit more upbeat. But above all else, I can’t seem to dislodge the chorus from my brain. It’s an incredibly sticky melody, but not in a clobber-you-over-the-head, obnoxious way. This is sophisticated pop music, as slick as it gets.